"plainly illogical," 1550s, from French absurde (16c.), from Latin absurdus "out of tune, discordant;" figuratively "incongruous, foolish, silly, senseless," from ab- "off, away from," here perhaps an intensive prefix, + surdus "dull, deaf, mute," which is possibly from an imitative PIE root meaning "to buzz, whisper" (see susurration). Thus the basic sense is perhaps "out of tune," but de Vaan writes, "Since 'deaf' often has two semantic sides, viz. 'who cannot hear' and 'who is not heard,' ab-surdus can be explained as 'which is unheard of' ..." The modern English sense is the Latin figurative one, perhaps "out of harmony with reason or propriety." Related: Absurdly; absurdness.
flowering plant in the mint family, used for thousands of years in medicine and cookery, 1771, from Spanish or American Spanish oregano, from Latin origanus, origanum, from Greek oreiganon, from oros "mountain" (see oread) + ganos "brightness, ornament." In Europe, the dried leaves of wild marjoram; in southwestern America, the name is given to a different, and more pungent, shrub, also known as Mexican oregano.
A staple of Italian cooking, its modern American popularity is said to date to World War II; a 1957 food industry publication in the U.S. says of oregano, "Here is a spice that was unheard of in 99 out of 100 households just a few years ago." Its rise seems to coincide with the popularity of pizza. The older form of the word in English was the Latin-derived origanum (c. 1300), also origan (early 15c., from Old French). Late Old English had it as organe.
proverbial for "something extremely rare or non-existent" (late 14c.) is from Juvenal ["Sat." vi. 164], but the real thing turned up in Australia (Chenopsis atratus).
"Do you say no worthy wife is to be found among all these crowds?" Well, let her be handsome, charming, rich and fertile; let her have ancient ancestors ranged about her halls; let her be more chaste than all the dishevelled Sabine maidens who stopped the war—a prodigy as rare upon the earth as a black swan! yet who could endure a wife that possessed all perfections? I would rather have a Venusian wench for my wife than you, O Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi, if, with all your virtues, you bring me a haughty brow, and reckon up Triumphs as part of your marriage portion. [Juvenal]
Blue dahlia also was used 19c. for "something rare and unheard of."
Middle English neue, from Old English neowe, niowe, earlier niwe "made or established for the first time, fresh, recently made or grown; novel, unheard-of, different from the old; untried, inexperienced, unused," from Proto-Germanic *neuja- (source also of Old Saxon niuwi, Old Frisian nie, Middle Dutch nieuwe, Dutch nieuw, Old High German niuwl, German neu, Danish and Swedish ny, Gothic niujis "new").
This is from PIE *newo- "new" (source also of Sanskrit navah, Persian nau, Hittite newash, Greek neos, Lithuanian naujas, Old Church Slavonic novu, Russian novyi, Latin novus, Old Irish nue, Welsh newydd "new").
From mid-14c. as "novel, modern" (Gower, 1393, has go the new foot "dance the latest style"). In the names of cities and countries named for some other place, c. 1500. Meaning "not habituated, unfamiliar, unaccustomed," 1590s. Of the moon from late Old English. The adverb, "newly, for the first time," is Old English niwe, from the adjective. As a noun, "that which is new," also in Old English. There was a verb form in Old English (niwian, neowian) and Middle English (neuen) "make, invent, create; bring forth, produce, bear fruit; begin or resume (an activity); resupply; substitute," but it seems to have fallen from use.
New Testament is from late 14c. New math in reference to a system of teaching mathematics based on investigation and discovery is from 1958. New World (adj.) to designate phenomena of the Western Hemisphere first attested 1823, in Lord Byron; the noun phrase is recorded from 1550s. New Deal in the FDR sense is attested by 1932. New school in reference to the more advanced or liberal faction of something is from 1806. New Left (1960) was a coinage of U.S. political sociologist C. Wright Mills (1916-1962). New light in reference to religions is from 1640s. New frontier, in U.S. politics, "reform and social betterment," is from 1934 (Henry Wallace) but associated with John F. Kennedy's use of it in 1960.
element meaning "into, in, on, upon" (also im-, il-, ir- by assimilation of -n- with following consonant), from Latin in- "in," from PIE root *en "in."
In Old French (and hence in Middle English) this often became en-, which in English had a strong tendency to revert to Latin in-, but not always, which accounts for pairs such as enquire/inquire. There was a native form, which in West Saxon usually appeared as on- (as in Old English onliehtan "to enlighten"), and some of those verbs survived into Middle English (such as inwrite "to inscribe"), but all now seem to be extinct.
Not related to in- (1) "not," which also was a common prefix in Latin, causing confusion: to the Romans impressus could mean "pressed" or "unpressed;" inaudire meant "to hear," but inauditus meant "unheard of;" in Late Latin investigabilis could mean "that may be searched into" or "that cannot be searched into." Latin invocatus was "uncalled, uninvited," but invocare was "to call, appeal to."
The trouble has continued in English; the hesitation over what is meant by inflammable being a commonly cited example. Implume (1610s) meant "to feather," but implumed (c. 1600) meant "unfeathered." Impliable can mean "capable of being implied" (1865) or "inflexible" (1734). Impartible in 17c. could mean "incapable of being divided" or "capable of being imparted." Impassionate can be "free from passion" or it can mean "strongly stirred by passion." Inanimate (adj.) is "lifeless," but Donne uses inanimate (v.) to mean "infuse with life or vigor." Irruption is "a breaking in," but irruptible is "unbreakable."
In addition to improve "use to one's profit," Middle English also had a verb improve meaning "to disprove" (15c.). To inculpate is "to accuse," but inculpable means "not culpable, free from blame." Infestive has meant "troublesome, annoying" (1560s, from infest) and "not festive" (1620s). In Middle English inflexible could mean "incapable of being bent" or "capable of being swayed or moved." In 17c., informed could mean "current in information," formed, animated," or "unformed, formless" ("This was an awkward use" [OED]). Inhabited has meant "dwelt in" (1560s) and "uninhabited" (1610s); inhabitable likewise has been used on opposite senses, a confusion that goes back to Late Latin.